Its quite interesting that the Internet continues to spawn new incarnations of social networks and search engines.
One question: Why?
I think is got to do with the fact that we all perceive things differently. Twitter and FreindFeed is the perfect example of this. I’m on FriendFeed (excuse the extra hype) but not on Twitter. This is because FreindFeed is the kind of social network I can use. Twitters central axiom of “What are you Doing?” is very different to FreindFeed’s approach whereby we share things. I’m more comfortable with the thought of having something more concrete to talk about and comment on.
In like manner, there are a Billion people on the Internet today and there is not going to be a one size fits all solution to the way people want to interact with each other. There might as well be as many social networks as there are people. Consider that Flikr and SmugMug are social networks in themselves, yet they use photographs as a catalyst for conversation. So this illustrates my points about different approaches to the social interaction that people crave.
This weeks entry into the Social network race was SocialMedian. I have not tried it myself anad reviews seems to be mixed. We will see what happens.
Search is another area that people use based on how comfortable. I’m a Google user at the moment. yet there is Windows Live Search, Yahoo and now Cuil, a new take on the search engine by former Googlers. Its presentation of results in a magazine format is instantly recognizable to readers of print publications. Its presentation of possibly related information- for example I searched for myself and got my blog posts as a expected, but also a list of Italian football players – is very well done as well.
So my point is that even for something as simple as search, people have different perceptions and there will always be ways to improve to better meet users expectations.
Google Knol, and I’m mentioning it in passing is an attempt to upset Wikipedia’s cup. A Knol is supposed to be a unit of knowledge. And I’m sure you can see where this is going. And remember that not everything Google comes up with is an instant hit. It will probably be in perpetual beta for a while. So don’t write it off just yet.
Will there be an end to this? Its possible that some form of consolidation will take place if these startups, and others, take off. After all, the big players will continue to want to improve their offerings and some of the radical ideas now days come out of the startups rather than the established companies.